Don’t frack around southwestern Ontario

Toban Black on the Media Co-op

At the end of May, some of us gathered for a “Don’t frack with us!” protest in London, Ontario.

The rally call-out said –

Fracking is a toxic, dangerous, and wasteful form of natural gas extraction that we may see around London, Ontario. The water pollution is the worst of the fracking impacts. Tap water has become flammable after fracking is done to break gas out of nearby shale rock. A stew of toxic chemicals is pumped into each gas well, and radium is one of many underground substances that can be unintentionally released during this extraction.

In spite of all of those dangers, there are plans for shale gas exploration around London –
In addition to water contamination, we also should be concerned about explosion risks, air pollution, water depletion, methane greenhouse gas releases, earthquakes, increased truck traffic, and deforestation.

If you are worried about all of these threats from fracking, please come out to this rally to show your concern, and learn more about what we are up against.

Two sets of photos from the protest can be seen here (on Facebook) and here (on Flickr).

This video shows some of the rally.

This London rally was called to follow up a “Don’t frack with our water” demonstration outside of a North American shale gas conference in Point Edward, on May 19th.

The anti-fracking banners were made by members of a Sarnia-based activist network called S.H.A.M.E. A few of those activists were able to join us in London, and Zak gave a Sarnia-Lambton perspective when he spoke at the rally.

Our protest wasn’t about just one municipality. Part of the rally call-out said –

This London rally also is being arranged in solidarity with others who are fighting fracking elsewhere in this region of North America.

Even if there were no fracking in London or directly beside London, the water supplies for the city still are threatened by plans for this shale extraction around Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

In Ontario, tens of thousands of acres of land already have been purchased by a Calgary company that is looking to start fracking in Lambton and Chatham-Kent, directly beside Walpole Island. Shale extraction also might be done at Kettle Point, or elsewhere along the Great Lakes.

In the U.S., fracking is being challenged in Ohio, Michigan, and in other states that share the Great Lakes with us.

In London, we originally were going to gather along one side of city hall, but the people who came out wanted to relocate to the sidewalk around the front entrance. A security guard told us that we had to move back to another sidewalk before we’d be on public land. But we held our ground.

People bunched up around the driveway, in front of a TV camera, for a few minutes. I gave a brief interview, but it seems that the TV station didn’t air any of the rally footage. (Or a clip aired without us noticing it.) Yet, we’re making own own media, with some material that a few of us captured.

As the rally was winding down, we chalked out some anti-fracking messages on the sidewalk in front of city hall.

Since the protest, a “Don’t frack around London, Ontario” Facebook “group” has been set up. There also will be at least one London area e-mail list, and anyone can join by sending a message to the Stop Fracking Ontario e-mail account. Otherwise, specific follow-up plans haven’t come together, this soon after the rally.

What is clear is that some people around here are concerned about what shale fracking could do to our environment and our health. There has been some preliminary talk about municipal and provincial campaigning for a ban on fracking.

This isn’t a battle that any one group or organization could tackle on their own. Widespread collaboration would be necessary before we can stop the plans for shale fracking.

Stop Fracking Ontario web pages will be there to link together any such efforts.


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